Many officers will cut corners by doing a "cut and paste" job on each case. A classic example is where one officer described my client as "stumbling" from his car upon exiting. This was curiously an identical observation the same officer had of another one of my clients. Hmm!
By filing a public disclosure request of the officer's prior reports, I was able to determine that every single person he arrested "stumbled" from their car upon exiting. This was not a "figure of speech," but suddenly was relevant to the officer's credibility. Obtaining officers' reports can help you find a pattern of the way they write, and can be very useful in determining whether they cut corners. If you are an attorney, you should do this. I fyou are a client, be sure to mention to your attorney that this might be worth investigating.
Sustained complaints of the officer
You should be able to get these through a public disclosure request, but if they are anything less than sustained (i.e. unfounded) they are not going to be produced in any way due to heavy-handed police unions. Naturally, the vast majority of complaints are unfounded. Who in their right mind would take the stress and time to write a completely fictional report about an officer, anyway? Somehow, the police department thinks people do this all the time.
If you think something is being withheld, use a subpoena to obtain it. It is then much more likely to be produced, because to not produce it is a violation of court order. Sometimes the misconduct is not clearly relevant to credibility. for example, my firm once discovered tht an officer had surfed pornography at the police station. By raising the issue at a department of licensing hearing wherein the officer was subpoenaed, we sufficiently spooked the cop to avoid the criminal case. While the state had no idea, it was useful.
Inconsistencies in the report and other records
If you analyze the report in concert with other records (CAD or computer dispatch records, or video records) you may find inconsistencies that are very useful in undermining the State's case. For example, I once found dispatch records that showed that at the time of the "mouth check," (supposed to be 15 minutes before the breath test at the station), the officer was having my client's car towed out in the field. On this basis the breath test was suppressed, as a violation of protocol. In another case, obtaining the audio dispatch report of the cop calling to say, "I'm pulling this guy over" undermined the officer's claim that he merely followed my client after being identified as a drunk driver by a pedestrian, and that when my client parked, my client meandered over to the officer's car in such a drunk fashion that the officer then had probable cause to arrest.
Additional resources provided by the author
Our website has more information about these kinds of inconsistencies and the credibility of officers in general. Our firm also maintains a database of all sustained complaints of all area officers. We are happy to share individual queries of officers with other attorneys, and if you hire us we are able to do a more thorough search.